I only caught bits and parts of this game, because I was writing a paper (my teachers conveniently decided that they would give out all the big assignments this week), but thanks to everyone who showed up last night for carrying on the conversation.
If tonight's preseason game is any indication, Eddie Jordan has absolutely no excuses if he misuses the bench again. Just look at how this game changed when the second unit entered. AD and Darius Songaila showed their pick and roll chemistry, Blatche was fantastic, and Taser was flying all over the court. They were all over the place defensively, and while the half court offense struggled, when they ran, they ran effectively.
Of the group, Blatche and Taser probably impressed me the most, along with AD. We've heard a lot about Blatche's supposed renewed commitment, but I was dubious, just because it's one thing to do it in practice and not a game. Yesterday, though, emphatically affirmed that perhaps there is something new there. He was a presence defensively, and it was exciting to see him fill the lanes on those fast breaks. He still jumped around too much defensively, but if he can just provide 15-20 minutes of all out aggression at the 5 spot, it'll provide a new look for opposing teams.
Speaking of new looks, I can't help but be incredibly excited by Taser (aka Dominic McGuire). I had never really heard of the guy when we drafted him, but it's becoming clearer every day that he should have been a first-round pick. The stat sheet said he only had one steal and one block, but it sure didn't seem like it. I just love that his skill set is so divergent on this roster. He doesn't need to score; all he does is rebound, play defense, and provide the occasional highlight play. He reminds me of Renaldo Balkman; an overlooked guy who was underrated because he doesn't score much, but can really provide a poor defensive team with a lift. If Taser has half the rookie season Balkman had last year, I'd be thrilled.
That also begs the question, how do you get McGuire consistent minutes? D-Mac's best position is probably small forward, but it's silly to cut Caron Butler's minutes too much. Perhaps the best solution is to play McGuire and Butler together when Mister 50 sits down. If Butler learns how to harness his defensive talent, that duo could terrorize the passing lanes. The only problem is that this would bury Nick Young, the first-round pick, and he probably won't take too kindly to it. Then again, based on how he played today, it only makes sense to bury him.
I'm not too concerned about the ragged performances of Arenas and Butler, though I do wonder whether Gil's knee injury is worse than we expected. The only starter that really stood out to me was Brendan Haywood, who was a monster on the glass (8 boards and 3 blocks in just 20 minutes) against one of the top rebounding frontlines in the league. Obviously, I expect them to come around, though it would be nice to know if Gilbert's knee gets better quicker.
Now, some quick links:
- The Washington Post recap focuses on the new frontcourt.
AP Recap, featuring a turd of a lede.
Jones on the NBA says Agent Zero is now the most marketable player in the NBA. Nice read.
20 Second Timeout previews the East, and like John Hollinger, he's down on the Wizards.
Washington has three All-Star caliber players on offense but plays poor defense and lacks a consistent post up game. People like to talk about how the Wizards were briefly in first place in the East last year but you can rest assured that will not happen this season. It took a perfect storm of injuries to key players on other teams and sluggish stretches by Cleveland and Chicago for Washington to briefly occupy the top spot. The Wizards could grab the eighth spot if Miami completely implodes--a definite possibility--but they simply are not better than the first seven teams listed above.
If by "key players on other teams," he means "Miami," then yes, I guess it was a perfect storm of injuries. Last I checked, Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland were all healthy last year.
- The semi-dormant Les Bullez is back with a new writer, known simply as "Kingly-1," who suggests the Wizards start Pech and bring Brendan Haywood off the bench (and eventually trade him, by the way). I'm not sure how this is productive at all, honestly, and I think astute readers here know why, but still, give it a gander.
Green Bandwagon on the "Ready to Rule" slogan.
I'm pretty sure no team with Gilbert Arenas could go without some sort of marketing campaign. And the Wizards delivered with "Ready to Rule." I like it. Hopefully I can mock it by the end of the season. And for the record I'm a huge Caron Butler fan. People don't bash the Lakers enough for that atrocious Butler/Kwame Brown deal.
I think we all agree about the last point.